Israel: Let's All Be Loud and Stupid


December19, 2006: In Gaza, Hamas and Fatah gunmen fought in the main hospital, killing one person and wounding eleven others. There are now 11,000 UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. Hizbollah is calling for new national elections in Lebanon, believing that they might have to votes to gain control of the government. The ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians continues to hold, despite daily incidents of rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel. The Palestinians don't consider this a violation, because not a lot of rockets are being fired, and the Israelis are not responding with troops or artillery fire.

Hizbollah continues to maintain thousands of demonstrators in the capital, calling for the Lebanese government to give Hizbollah veto power. The government refuses to give in. Syria and Iran continue to send weapons across the border to Hezbollah, and the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon continue to stay out of the way of Hizbollah operations.

December 18, 2006: A Fatah colonel was kidnapped, and killed, by Hamas. Gun battles in Gaza left several wounded. Israel arms exports hit a record level in 2006, over $4 billion dollars worth. This makes Israel the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, after the U.S., Russia and France.

December 17, 2006: When Israel left Gaza last year, it was estimated that about 90 smuggling tunnels were operating underneath the Egyptian border. Now it appears that over twice as many tunnels are operating. Each tunnel is a profitable business, although many belong to terrorist groups and just bring in weapons. Israel is particularly worried about better missile components coming into Gaza, which will result in longer range, and more accurate missiles being fired into Israel.

Hamas and Fatah agreed to a truce, which reduced, but did not eliminate, the level of violence in Gaza. Hamas refused to participate in new elections called for by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

December 16, 2006: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for new presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas is the Fatah leader, and believes his only chance of regaining control of parliament, and restoring Western aid, is to hope that enough Palestinians are fed up with Hamas. That appears to be a long shot, as Palestinians appear as self-destructive as ever, and willing to vote Hamas back in. Meanwhile, Abbas appointed younger, reform-minded men to senior positions in the Fatah party.

Meanwhile, gunfire could be heard more frequently in Gaza, as groups of armed Fatah and Hamas supporters skirmished with each other. Abbas has been increasing the size, and quality of his "Presidential Guard," which now contains about 4,000 gunmen.

December 15, 2006: The majority of Palestinians blame the West for the current stalemate between Hamas and Fatah. Because most Palestinians also agree with Hamas, that Israel must be destroyed, Palestinians dismiss Western distress at the official Hamas policy of destroying Israel. Palestinians consider the West hypocritical for holding up aid to them because of this Hamas policy, and see the aid restrictions as a Western attempt to interfere in Palestinian affairs. Meanwhile, a recent poll in Israel found that 83 percent of Jewish Israelis don't trust Arabs. This high degree of mistrust makes negotiation difficult, if not impossible.


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